Top 10 Features You May Not Have Used

We’re always adding new features & improvements here at Ponoko: Faster making times, lower shipping options, more materials, a streamlined checkout process, support for new software packages, the list goes on and on.

It’s so long, in fact, that we’ve gathered some of your Personal Factory’s lesser known features here to make sure you don’t miss out on them.

Join us as we count down the top 10 features you may not have used. Hopefully you’ll find something here you didn’t know about before.

#10. Order status information:

Last year we completely redesigned our order status page. You can now double check the details of your order, get progress updates, and tracking information once it has shipped. Just visit ponoko.com/make and click on “show details” to get the low-down on your latest order.

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Comparing Stains on Laser Cut Wood

How to add a little something extra after all the cutting has been done

With all of the different material options available for laser cutting, it may seem like you are spoiled for choice. But sometimes it is nice to have a little more control over your finished outcome, and that’s were oils and wood stains can do wonders to transform the look of a material.

In this handy test-run and resulting visual comparison, Josh has taken a look at some of the popular Ponoko materials and how they perform with different finishes.

As well as putting together the table pictured above, he has noted down a few handy tips and material highlights that will help you make the right choice for your own laser cutting. Read on in the Ponoko Support Forums and learn how you can get the best possible outcome with stains and finishes on laser cut wood.

This content originally appeared in the Ponoko Support Forums.

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Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #3

Laser cut & engraved stamp

The tactile satisfaction of a physical stamp can help give your brand a memorable impact. The example above includes a simple but cleverly designed laser cut ergonomic handle which also has several surfaces where further branding or information can be laser etched.

Whether a laser etched stamp is produced as a promotional item to be given away, or as a tool to apply branding onto media for prospective customers, there is a novel human element to it that can communicate at a deeper level than conventional printed materials.

Creative modern interpretations of seemingly superseded technologies are a great way to make use of the Ponoko Personal Factory. Don’t see laser-safe natural rubber in the Materials Catalog? Make a request here, and your wish is our command…

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Laser Cut Vertical Axis Wind Turbine

Capturing the breeze for DIY power generation

This work-in-progress from Auckland-based scientist Dr Chris Pook looks to be moving along quite nicely. The aerofoils are still being refined, but even in their current state they are able to catch enough breeze to begin generating power.

I’m really pleased with how much of this turned out. The frame, the spindle and the arms all look just like the CAD design.

To see the thorough walkthrough of Dr Chris’ design process, follow his thoughts and progress here. This is a great example of how laser cutting can be used to generate progressive iterations of a design, continually refining towards a highly optimised final outcome.

via Dr Chris Pook

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How to oven form laser cut acrylic

A handy tip for when flat isn’t all that

Today we are taking a look at one way to give your laser cutting a boost and take it beyond the constraints of two dimensions. Utilising the thermoplastic properties of acrylic, it can be surprisingly easy to apply heat and then carefully form laser cut objects into more complex shapes.

Back in her student days, Kiki Brown Bear fired up the oven in her kitchen to soften her laser cut flatware, and then made use of actual forks and spoons as molds to get the shape she wanted. Follow her process over at Instructables, where you can find step-by-step photos and a brief video of the technique in action.

If you like the sound of this and want to explore further, there are all kinds of objects around the home that can also be used to help shape softened acrylic. We have seen some people laser cut custom profiles in MDF or ply, and then laminate them to create a DIY acrylic mold. To get heat into the acrylic, it is possible to use hair dryers, heat guns and grills (as well as ovens) to soften the material and get it ready for molding into shape. Just be sure to ventilate the area as much as possible, because those acrylic fumes are not so pleasant.

via Instructables

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Announcing Support for AutoCAD

Now you can upload DXF files directly from AutoCAD

You asked for it, you got it! You can now take DXF files exported from AutoCAD and upload them directly to your Personal Factory.

In addition, we’re thrilled to announce a brand-spanking-new starter kit for AutoCad, including a new design guide and design templates.

You can check out the new AutoCAD design guide here, and download the new design templates here.

Support for AutoCAD is still brand new, so if you’ve got any feedback or tips for improvement, please don’t hesitate to let us know!

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Top 10 Most Obscure Materials of 2014

Exploring some of the lesser-known materials in the Ponoko catalogue.

With 80+ materials available in the Ponoko catalouge, it’s understandable that a handful of them might fly under the radar. While classics like Bamboo & Walnut MDF might take up the spotlight, the Ponoko materials catalogue is rich with hidden gems.

Join us as we count down the top 10 deep cuts, b-sides, and unsung heroes of the Ponoko materials catalog:

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Look at laser cutting

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #212

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Above is a laser cut necklace from The Fashion Bandits.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

After the jump, glasses, fruit, trees, a house, and arrows… (more…)

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Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #2

Pop-up record player keeps customers in the groove

For a promotional product to make a lasting impression it can help to find a clever way to surprise and delight the recipient. Take this example from Canadian ad agency Grey who created a memorable direct mail product that references the client’s historical association with vinyl records.

A very basic but fully functional record player folds out from a sleeve containing the 45rpm single. Manually operated, the hollow space in the folded card amplifies the sound. According to Geoff Dawson from Grey:

“It’s actually shocking how good the sound quality is, it took a long time of playing with different materials and designs to get the audio just right”.

For a little more on the Grey player, check out the brief review on Modular 4.

Here’s another take on the same concept, this time in the form of a rather charming wedding invitation featuring more refined graphics and a custom song for the recipient to spin.

Taking inspiration from these examples, the Ponoko Personal Factory can be used to make simplified interpretations of other familiar domestic products. This is a great way to get your message across at high volume and low cost.

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How to transform an existing product

IKEA product hacking gets a facelift with some custom laser cutting

stairlight2.jpg

Mass produced commercial products can make a fantastic base for custom laser cut additions. This IKEA wall fixture hack by Josh Reuss was originally posted in the Ponoko Support forums Show & Tell section, and provides a nicely resolved example of how laser cutting can be used to transform an existing product.

There is more to this than simply cutting out a shape that slips over the manufactured fitting. Josh came up with some clever ways to create the full sized panel from several smaller components, while keeping all joints concealed and obscured by the pattern details.

Follow the link for a thorough walkthrough of the process that saw an off-the-shelf product become a unique, eye-catching designer item with surprising ease. (more…)

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